Small2_urban_heat_island_220111109-1-8a3ox6-0

The City of Austin should adopt a policy to encourage and possibly incentivize businesses and individuals who paint their roof surfaces white or convert their roof to white roofing materials.  White roof surfaces ward off more of the Sun's heat energy, thus reducing energy consumption for air conditioning.  It would also reduce the urban heat-island effect.  Some studies show that energy costs could be reduced by 20% or more.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/science/earth/30degrees.html

24 Votes Completed
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Austin Energy almost 6 years ago

The City does encourage white, or more appropriately, high albedo roofs!  In fact, it requires them in many cases. Under the City’s technical “building codes” all new roofs on commercial buildings that have flat roofs must install roofing with a Solar Reflective Index (SRI) of at least 78, which is quite high. Commercial pitched roofs must be at least 29 and everything else, including residential projects, must install a radiant barrier. Our community still seems to like dark shingles for its homes so that’ll take time. At any rate, the next time you fly into Austin, just look down, the results are right there.

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Rob Turk almost 6 years ago

I had an Energy Star compliant white roof installed after the hail damage in NW Austin in 2009. The city supposedly had a rebate program in place but this turned out to be misinformation - the rebate only applies to commercial customers (boo!). However, since getting my white roof, my summer electric bills have decreased by a good 20%-25%. I am a big believer in white roofs!

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Brian Peterson almost 6 years ago

I remember the roofs in subdivisions built in the 1950s in San Antonio had a white crushed stone over tar.  Very reflective and hail damage resistant.  I wonder why they were discontinued?

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Chris F over 5 years ago

I like the idea of a white roof, and will probably do that next time I replace my roof. On Brian's note, I grew up in a house with the white crushed stone over tar like you wrote about.  Don't see those anymore.

Back on topic, while I do think encouraging homeowners and businesses to paint or install white roofs is a good idea, I would like to see Austin totally remove high-dollar rebates and monetary incentives which come out of taxpayer and ratepayer pockets.  (A manufacturer's rebate, coming out of their own profit, is another story.)

Austin has 146,666 owner-occupied homes and 178,226 renter-occupied homes/apts (2010 census).  Taking money out of everyone's pocket to provide rebates to a handful individual homeowners isn't fair...especially for renters.  Case in point:  We just paid 42 Austin homeowners $480,000 in solar rebates to install roof panels.  Solar panels are great!  They're even better for the people who can sink $24,000 (avg) into them and get a $12,000 city rebate, 30% fed tax write-off, plus get a 12.5 cents for every kwH generated from the city.  However, how many citizens get to benefit from those panels after everyone "chipped in" money to the rebate pot?  By my estimation, uh, 42 + their immediate family members.  Anyway, I just don't like tax dollar and utility rates funding homeowner rebates.  No wonder the city is crying they've run out of money and need more from all of us.

Like the white roof idea, but when the time comes, I'll pay for it myself, thank you.  It is my home and no one should be forced to chip in for my upgrades and maintenance.  If I weren't contributing to other people's homes, I could afford more of my own fixes sooner! 

Some of us homeowners can't afford a $5 tube of caulk to seal the windows right now.  No rebates! 

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Bella Wilson over 4 years ago

White roofs are beneficial for house as it works based on the physics of sunlight. Dark roofs absorb and hold more than 80% of solar energy, while white ones can reflect 75% of it away that is why it makes a white-roofed building cooler and cheaper to air-condition.

Reference: - http://www.topgraderoofing.ie/roof-maintenance/

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Jason Spangler about 3 years ago

After a hail storm, my wife and I replaced our roof with a reflective white standing seam metal room. Our electric usage for cooling decreased, comfort increased, and we like the sound of rain on the roof.

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Jason Spangler about 3 years ago

I think the poster is referring to incentives for non-commercial, residential white roofs also (not just commercial roofs).

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